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Robert Menendez on Environment

Democratic Jr Senator; previously Representative (NJ-13)


Supports the Polluter Pays Principle

Q: Should the government impose conservation targets?

KEAN: I took on the Clean Car Act as one of my most pressing legislative priorities. I have proudly supported numerous environmental initiatives, including tax incentives for purchasing alternative or fuel efficient cars, financial assistance to gas stations who install hookups for these cars and mandatory retrofitting of diesel trucks. I was also a strong proponent of the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act, considered to be one of the most significant environmental bills ever passed.

MENENDEZ: My opponent will be a loyal footsoldier for a Bush administration that has one of the worst environmental records in history. My parents taught me that if you make a mess, you clean it up. Polluters should be held accountable for the damage they cause. I’ve consistently fought to reinstate the “polluter pays” principle behind superfund laws. In 2004 alone, Kean voted twice against making polluters pay more for their toxic waste.

Source: Hall Institute N.J. Senate Virtual Debate (X-ref Kean) , Sep 24, 2006

Voted YES on protecting ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystems.

Whitehouse Amdt. No. 803 to S.Amdt. 799 to S. 601 (Water Resources Development Act of 2013): To create the National Endowment for the Oceans to promote the protection and conservation of United States ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystems.

Proponent's Argument for voting Yes: Mr. WHITEHOUSE: This measure was part of the RESTORE Act, [but] this piece of it fell out of the bargain. If you supported the RESTORE Act, you have already supported this bill. If you believe that deals should be deals in the Senate, then you should support this bill. It is very important that we as a body support this bill. It does not create a single extra bureaucracy or person. It works within the existing government, and it adds no funding.

MississippiRiverDelta.org Summary of RESTORE Act: The Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act (RESTORE Act) dedicates 80% of all Clean Water Act penalties paid by those responsible for the 2010 gulf oil disaster to Gulf Coast restoration.

Proponent's press release supporting Yes vote: The National Endowment for the Oceans, Coasts, and Great Lakes Act would provide steady funding that universities, non-profit organizations, and government agencies can count on every year to support research and restoration projects. It would be funded primarily by dedicating 12.5% of revenues from offshore energy development, including oil, gas, and renewable energy. Revenue is generated through offshore lease sales and production based royalty payments. Funds from the Endowment would be distributed through a competitive grant program to fund projects to restore habitat, manage fisheries, plan for sustainable coastal development, enhance ocean monitoring and research activities, acquire coastal properties for preservation, and relocate critical coastal infrastructure.

Menendez says, "Menendez (D-NJ)"

Reference: National Endowment for the Oceans; Bill S.Amdt. 803 ; vote number 13-SV116 on May 8, 2013

Voted YES on $2 billion more for Cash for Clunkers program.

Congressional Summary:Emergency supplemental appropriations of $2 billion for the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save (CARS) Program.

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. OBEY (D, WI-7): The cash for clunkers program has proven even more wildly popular than its strongest supporters had predicted. Just last month, Congress passed the program, which provided up to $4,500 if you trade in your old gas guzzler for a new car that gets better mileage. That was done in the hopes of spurring some new car sales and encouraging people to be a little more environmentally friendly. We provided $1 billion in the supplemental to get it going, enough for about 250,000 sales--which was just about exhausted in one week. This bill transfers $2 billion from the Department of Energy's Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee program, which doesn't expect to award funding until late next year.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. LEWIS (R, CA-41): In the majority's haste to slam legislation with no time for consideration or amendments, we are now seeing the effects of such shortsighted martial law tactics.

Senator Feinstein tried to negotiate some changes to improve the program but was told that it was this way or the highway. Not one hearing on the Cash for Clunkers program, not one hearing on how the first billion dollars has been spent, not one hearing on how much money the program will need to get through the fiscal year.

Many of my colleagues will say, This is a great program, and it is necessary for the revitalization of the car industry. I'm not really going to argue with those goals. However, are we sure this program is working like it's supposed to? I don't think so. This program has only been up and running 1 week. If that is how the government is going to handle billion-dollar programs affecting all Americans, I ask, Whatever will we do if the administration takes control of our health care system?

Reference: Cash for Clunkers bill; Bill H.R. 3435 ; vote number 2009-S270 on Aug 6, 2009

Voted NO on prohibiting eminent domain for use as parks or grazing land.

To prohibit the involuntary acquisition of farmland & grazing land by government for parks, open space, or similar purposes. Exceptions include takings for use by:

Proponents support voting YES because:

Sen. CRAIG: "Eminent domain was elevated greatly as an issue following a highly controversial 2005 Supreme Court decision known as Kelo vs. The City of New London. Since that decision, we as a nation have allowed state & local governments to utilize eminent domain to force landowners to yield their property to private development. Farmers and ranchers in particular have become vulnerable to state and local governments taking their property for economic development or open space designations. My amendment is a very targeted amendment. It addresses only cases in which private working agricultural land is taken and turned into public open space."

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Sen. HARKIN: This amendment doesn't reach the Kelo decision [because Kelo was about taking open space for private development]. Under this amendment they can still do that.

CRAIG. Oh, I disagree totally. We reach a portion of Kelo that is now most frequently impacting farms and ranches, and that is open space for open space.

HARKIN. The amendment has the Federal Government telling a local government what it can and cannot do within its own jurisdiction.

Letter from the National Conference of State Legislatures & US Conference of Mayors:

"This amendment is not only ill-advised, but it is also unconstitutional [because it] preempts state & local land use laws. The 5th Amendment expressly permits the taking of private property for public use provided just compensation is provided to the owner. The power of eminent domain has always been, and should remain, a state and local power."

Reference: Craig Amendment to Farm Bill Extension Act; Bill S.Amdt. 3640 to H.R. 2419 ; vote number 2007-429 on Dec 13, 2007

Voted NO on deauthorizing "critical habitat" for endangered species.

To amend and reauthorize the Endangered Species Act of 1973 to provide greater results conserving and recovering listed species, and for other purposes, including:
Reference: Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act; Bill HR 3824 ; vote number 2005-506 on Sep 29, 2005

Voted NO on speeding up approval of forest thinning projects.

Vote to adopt the conference report on the bill that would reduce and expedite (speed up) environmental and judicial reviews of forest thinning projects. The bill would authorize $760 million a year from fiscal 2004 to fiscal 2008. The Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service would have the authorization to remove vegetation that could cause or assist the spread of wildfires, disease or insect infestation. All forest thinning project would come after public meetings had been held. Forest thinning would be restricted to land that is within a 1.5 miles of at-risk communities , high-risk land that serves as a home for threatened and endangered species, high-risk land in the area of municipal water sources and and high-risk land that is specifically susceptible to disease or insect infestation.
Reference: Healthy Forests Restoration Act; Bill HR 1904 ; vote number 2003-656 on Nov 21, 2003

Remove PCBs from Hudson River by dredging 200 miles.

Menendez signed a letter to EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman:

Dear Administrator Whitman:

We would like to convey our strong support for EPA’s proposal to remove sediment contaminated by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from the “hot spots” in the upper Hudson River. This clean-up plan is a crucial first step towards restoring the Hudson’s tremendous social, ecological, and economic value for the people of NY and NJ.

The Hudson River has been designated as an American Heritage River. Unfortunately, since 1983, 200 miles of the Hudson have also been designated as a Superfund site due to the damage caused by the estimated 1.3 million pounds of PCBs released by General Electric Company.

PCBs pose a serious threat to public health; they are probable human carcinogens and are known to cause neurological, reproductive, and endocrine disorders. Since 1976, because of PCB contamination, women of childbearing age and children [have been advised] not to eat any fish from any location along the Hudson. Unfortunately, low-income and subsistence fishermen and their families continue to consume fish contaminated with PCBs.

This contamination also adversely impacts longstanding commercial, recreational, and cultural activities on the Hudson River. For example, the commercial striped bass fishery was once a $40 million a year industry. However, due to PCB contamination, the state closed the fishery in 1976, all but ending a way of life along the river.

Environmental dredging in the Hudson will allow future dredging to ensure commercial craft continue to ply the waters of the upper Hudson River, and reduce the adverse affects of PCBs on the aquatic ecosystem. This means EPA’s remediation plan is a critical first step in reducing threats to public health, reviving local economies, reopening recreational opportunities and reinvigorating cultural ties along the river.

Source: Letter to EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman 01-EPA1 on Apr 6, 2001

Rated 95% by the LCV, indicating pro-environment votes.

Menendez scores 95% by the LCV on environmental issues

The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) is the political voice of the national environmental movement and the only organization devoted full-time to shaping a pro-environment Congress and White House. We run tough and effective campaigns to defeat anti-environment candidates, and support those leaders who stand up for a clean, healthy future for America. Through our National Environmental Scorecard and Presidential Report Card we hold Congress and the Administration accountable for their actions on the environment. Through regional offices, we build coalitions, promote grassroots power, and train the next generation of environmental leaders. The 2003 National Environmental Scorecard provides objective, factual information about the environmental voting records of all Members of the first session of the 108th Congress. This Scorecard represents the consensus of experts from 20 respected environmental and conservation organizations who selected the key votes on which Members of Congress should be graded. LCV scores votes on the most important issues of the year, including environmental health and safety protections, resource conservation, and spending for environmental programs. Scores are calculated by dividing the number of pro-environment votes by the total number of votes scored. The votes included in this Scorecard presented Members of Congress with a real choice on protecting the environment and help distinguish which legislators are working for environmental protection. Except in rare circumstances, the Scorecard excludes consensus action on the environment and issues on which no recorded votes occurred.

Source: LCV website 03n-LCV on Dec 31, 2003

Health impact assessments for environmental health.

Menendez co-sponsored for health impact assessments for environmental health

OnTheIssues.org Explanation: A classic 1980s study demonstrated that poor neighborhoods are burdened with more environmental hazards than rich neighborhoods. The 1980s study established the field of "environmental justice"; this bill addresses environmental justice and health justice.

OFFICIAL CONGRESSIONAL SUMMARY: A bill to require health impact assessments and take other actions to improve health and the environmental quality of communities, and for other purposes.

SPONSOR'S INTRODUCTORY REMARKS: Sen. OBAMA: The Healthy Places Act of 2006 focuses on the built environment, which includes our homes, parks, and transportation systems. Like many other States, Illinois has already begun to take steps to improve the environment. City leaders in Chicago have recognized that many low-income families have no access to fresh foods and medicine because there are no grocery stores and pharmacies in their neighborhoods. Retail Chicago, an initiative of the city's Department of Planning and Development, is now using redevelopment funds to entice local developers to bring grocery stores and pharmacies into these neighborhoods.

The Healthy Places Act of 2006 would expand these and other efforts to improve the planning and design of communities that can promote healthier living. It establishes and supports health impact assessment programs; better addressing environmental health issues; and creating a grant program to address environmental health hazards, particularly those that contribute to health disparities. Finally, the Healthy Places Act provides additional support for research on the relationship between the built environment and the health status of residents.

LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Referred to Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; never came to a vote.

Source: Healthy Places Act (S.2506/H.R.5088) 06-S2506 on Apr 4, 2006

Grants for beach water pollution under Clean Water Act.

Menendez co-sponsored grants for beach water pollution under Clean Water Act

Beach Protection Act of 2008 - Amends the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (popularly known as the Clean Water Act) to include among eligible grant activities the development and implementation of programs for source tracking, sanitary surveys, and prevention efforts to address the identified sources of beach water pollution. Requires grant recipients to identify:

  1. the use of a rapid testing method;
  2. measures for communication within 24 hours of the results of a water sample concerning pollutants to specified officials with authority to require the prevention or treatment of the sources of beach water pollution;
  3. measures to develop and implement a beach water pollution source identification and tracking program for the coastal recreation waters that are not meeting applicable water quality standards for pathogens; and
  4. a publicly accessible and searchable global information system database with information updated within 24 hours of its availability, organized by beach and with defined standards, sampling plan, monitoring protocols, sampling results, and number and cause of beach closing and advisory days.
  5. Legislative Outcome: Related bills: H.R.2537, S.1506. Senate Reports: 110-414.
    Source: Beach Protection Act (S.2844) 08-S2844 on Apr 10, 2008

    Regulate all dog breeders down to kennels of 50 dogs.

    Menendez co-sponsored PUPS: Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act

    Congressional Summary:Amends the Animal Welfare Act to define a "high volume retail breeder" as a person who, in commerce, for compensation or profit: has an ownership interest in or custody of one or more breeding female dogs; and sells more than 50 of the offspring of such dogs for use as pets in any one-year period. Considers such a breeder of dogs to be a dealer.

    Promulgates requirements for the exercise of dogs at facilities owned or operated by high volume retail breeders, including requiring daily access to exercise that allows the dogs to move sufficiently in a way that is not forced, repetitive, or restrictive; and is in an area that is spacious, cleaned at least once a day, free of infestation by pests or vermin, and designed to prevent the dogs from escaping.

    Opponent's Comments (GSDCA, the German Shepherd Dog Club of America):In the past, legislation has excluded home/hobby breeders. This bill would, for the first time, require home/hobby breeders to follow the strict USDA requirements, such as engineering standards designed for large commercial kennels and not homes. Such regulations would exceedingly difficult to meet in a home/residential breeding environment. If passed, PUPS would disastrously reduce purposely-bred pups for the public.

    There is nothing in this bill that changes the status of already known substandard kennel violators. There is no increase in funding for additional inspectors, nor is increased inspection evaluation education included.

    Dogs purposely bred for showing, trialing or other events often are not bred for several years due to many different reasons. Some of these dogs may never be bred, yet are included in the count.

    Working kennels maintain a large dog population while they are evaluating dogs; if the dogs do not work out for the purpose for which they were intended, they are often sold as pets. This could bring those working/training kennels under USDA regulations.

    Source: HR835/S707 11-S0707 on Feb 28, 2011

    Rated 80% by HSLF, indicating a pro-animal welfare voting record.

    Menendez scores 80% by the Humane Society on animal rights issues

    112th Mid-Term Humane Scorecard: The Humane Society Legislative Fund has posted the final version of the 2011 Humane Scorecard, where you can track the performance of your federal lawmakers on key animal protection issues during last year. We rated legislators based on their voting behavior on measures such as agribusiness subsidies, lethal predator control, and the Endangered Species Act; their cosponsorship of priority bills on puppy mills, horse slaughter, animal fighting, and chimps in research; their support for funding the enforcement of animal welfare laws; and their leadership on animal protection. All of the priority bills whose cosponsorships we're counting enjoy strong bipartisan support; in the House, each of the four now has more than 150 cosponsors.

    The Humane Scorecard is not a perfect measuring tool, but creating some reasonable yardstick and allowing citizens to hold lawmakers accountable is central to our work. When the Humane Scorecard comes out each year, it helps clarify how the animal protection movement is doing geographically, by party affiliation, and in other categories. It helps us chart our course for animals by seeing where we have been effective, and where we need to improve.

    Source: HSLF website 12-HumaneS on Jan 13, 2012

    Strengthen prohibitions against animal fighting.

    Menendez co-sponsored strengthening prohibitions against animal fighting

    Sen. CANTWELL. I reintroduce today the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act of 2007. This legislation has won the unanimous approval of the Senate several times, but unfortunately has not yet reached the finish line.

    There is no doubt, animal fighting is terribly cruel. Dogs and roosters are drugged to make them hyper-aggressive and forced to keep fighting even after suffering severe injuries such as punctured eyes and pierced lungs. It's all done for "entertainment" and illegal gambling. Some dogfighters steal pets to use as bait for training their dogs, while others allow trained fighting dogs to roam neighborhoods and endanger the public.

    The Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act will strengthen current law by making the interstate transport of animals for the purpose of fighting a felony and increase the punishment to three years of jail time. This is necessary because the current misdemeanor penalty has proven ineffective--considered a "cost of doing business" by those in the animal fighting industry which continues unabated nationwide.

    These enterprises depend on interstate commerce, as evidenced by the animal fighting magazines that advertise and promote them. Our bill also makes it a felony to move cockfighting implements in interstate or foreign commerce. These are razor-sharp knives known as "slashers" and ice pick-like gaffs designed exclusively for cockfights and attached to the birds' legs for fighting.

    This is long overdue legislation. It's time to get this felony animal fighting language enacted. It's time for Congress to strengthen the federal law so that it can provide as a meaningful deterrent against animal fighting. Our legislation does not expand the federal government's reach into a new area, but simply aims to make current law more effective. It is explicitly limited to interstate and foreign commerce, so it protects states' rights in the two states where cockfighting is still allowed.

    Source: Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act (S.261/H.R.137) 2007-S261 on Jan 4, 2007

    Other candidates on Environment: Robert Menendez on other issues:
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    Barbara Buono
    Chris Christie
    Cory Booker
    NJ Senatorial:
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    Frank Pallone
    Jeff Bell
    Jeff Chiesa
    Murray Sabrin
    Rush Holt
    Steve Lonegan

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    Page last updated: Aug 11, 2014